31 December 2011

PEACE be with you this New Year's Eve

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

Every New Years Eve seems to bring with it a time of reflection ... looking back on the joys, challenges and changes of the past 365 days. For many it becomes a time for making new promises, plans to do things differently, resolving to be more and do more. We come up with new dreams, more hopes and desires - and this year will be no exception.

I had a lot of dreams for 2011, but quickly realized that God had different plans. He must have been looking down on me, laughing and saying, “Donna, you still don’t get it. I have bigger plans for you.” You see, nothing seemed to go according to my plans - I had to turn away from my “wants,” becoming totally dependent on Christ alone.  I must admit that I was a little scared and felt somewhat uncomfortable in the process, but God’s grace and mercy were more than enough.  I think God finally got the point across ... whatever He has in store for me is always so much greater than what I could have imagined (although I still might have to be reminded from time to time).  Jeremiah 29:11-13 has become one of my favorite scripture verses ... a promise from God, one that I have grown to rely on.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. When you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

So for 2012, I am trying a different approach: no plans, no pre-conceived ideas ... just an open mind, a thankful heart, and a willing spirit. I am looking forward to all that God has in store for me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do not plan to sit idle waiting for things to happen. I believe that God wants us to do our part, to live life to the fullest, and He wants us to make our desires known to Him through prayer.

Some of the most positive changes that took place in my life this year, occurred because of the journey I began on January 1st ... to seek more peace in my life.  I chose to focus on two words ... PEACE and SPARKLE, and God used every milestone of this journey to teach me valuable lessons and instill in me one life-changing fact.  Through this journey I have learned the secret for living a life filled with God’s peace  ... finding peace (and hope) in troubled times is the same as finding joy and love in happy times. 

TRUE PEACE can only be found in the stillness of God's presence.

I’d love to hear what God has revealed to you in our journey together. Do you have any resolutions, hopes, or plans for 2012? Have you chosen “one word” to focus on in 2012? Be sure to check back on Monday to read about the words I have chosen for 2012.

As we wait in anticipation for the New Year to begin, my prayer is that God will bless your life in 2012. May He lead you in unexpected ways and take you on amazing adventures that will draw you closer to Him.

God’s Peace,  Donna Weaver

It’s not too late to pick ONE WORD for 2012, check it out:

26 December 2011

Wise Men Still Seek Him

"When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with
their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart"
- Howard Thurman, author, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader

Christmas is a time when we think about the Wise Men embarking on their journey to Bethlehem ... even though Christmas Day has come and gone, as the quote above states ... the work of Christmas continues.

WISDOM:   knowledge and the capacity to use it; discernment and judgment; discretion.
EMBARK:   to make a start, such as embarking on a new career.
JOURNEY:   travel or passage from one place to another, such as the passage from youth to maturity.

Every journey must begin somewhere and a good place to start is by asking ourselves, “Where does our wisdom come from?” AND “How can we use our wisdom to bring glory to Christ?”

Julia Bettencourt, one of my favorite writers of small group devotions, opened her devotion titled "What to Know” with the following statement. “When my oldest daughter was in school she would always get frustrated and ask, when will I ever need to know this in real life?”  I remember asking myself that very same question many times, especially in my teenage years.  When I was growing up, my wisdom came from teachers, pastors, mentors, and my parents – so I associated being wise with older people. Perhaps we embark on a journey of growing in wisdom, long before we become aware of the journey itself.

Over the years, I continued to gain knowledge - from my peers, co-workers, and life’s everyday experiences. As I look back now, I realize that at times I was seeking wisdom from all the “circumstances” and everyone but God.

It was about 15 years ago when I first heard the words of what has become one of my favorite praise songs, and that is when my journey for wisdom changed focus. The song is called, “Seek Ye First” and was written by Karen Lafferty. The words of the song are based on Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Hearing the lyrics today remind me of the story of Solomon. More than anything else, Solomon asked for wisdom so that he could be a wise ruler of God’s people. He sought God first, and God not only granted him wisdom but blessed his life in many ways. Wisdom may not bring all of us power, riches or a long life, but living a life of constantly seeking God’s wisdom will keep us on the path of righteousness. Scripture tells us, “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me” (Proverbs 8:17).

As we acquire knowledge, we gain protection by being able to make wise choices between good and evil. We also learn more about our vocation and gain a better understanding of God’s will for our lives. And most importantly, we gain discernment and sensitivity for loving God’s people in a bigger way. Maybe that is why the Apostle Paul constantly reminded the early church of the importance of being wise.

Some of you may be thinking that you are already wise. I say to you, “Is the search over?  Are we ever wise enough?” The answer may be found in a quote by Georg C Lichtenberg, “One’s first step in wisdom is to question everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”

As I continue my journey I still question everything. Bit by bit, lesson by lesson, as I seek to know Him more and follow his ways, God still continues to grant me wisdom. I used to think that wisdom was something you acquired with age. Now that I am on the other side of young, I’ve come to realize that wisdom doesn’t have as much to do with age as it does with taking the journey to actively seek it.

If ever the day arrives when I “come to terms with everything,” I hope that I will finally be able to say that “I AM WISE.” Until that time ... the journey, and our kingdom work here on earth continues!

Seeking Him First.
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will
be counted among the wise.” – Proverbs 19:20

24 December 2011

It’s a Silent Night

“The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event
that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's
town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.” - Luke 2:10-11, The Message

For the last two days I have been struggling with trying to write this blog. “Preparing for Christmas” has been on my heart and mind a lot lately and the topic has consumed more than a few of my blog posts. But, today the preparation has ended – the last few packages have been wrapped, cookies baked and packed safely in decorative tins. House cleaned – check!  Dinner with friends, yep! And I just got home from our Candlelight Service at church – awesome as always.

What next? After all tomorrow morning is finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for – young and old alike.

I quickly put on my candy cane jammie’s, grabbed a cup of hot chocolate, lit a candle and sat down to ponder the question. Most certainly ... What next?

Two lines of a Christmas song came to mind. The song is called, “I Need a Silent Night” by Amy Grant. It has been one of my favorite songs this holiday season. The words that came to mind were: “What was it like back there in Bethlehem with peace on earth, good will toward men” and “I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here, to end this crazy day with a silent night.”

Thinking about that peace-filled evening so very long ago ... shepherd’s watching over their flocks, the still of the night - all the while an event that would change the lives of each one of us was taking place. The Messiah – Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace was born!

2011 has been a year consumed with my personal journey of seeking peace. Some days I am convinced that I am I on the right path, other days not so sure. One thing that I have learned along the way is that we cannot find peace without seeking God first.

I am reminded of a verse that I read in a greeting card which speaks the exact words that I am feeling tonight. It said, “If you look for Me this Christmas, you won’t need a shining star – I’m no longer just in Bethlehem, I’m right there where you are. Love Jesus.” So as midnight quickly approaches, in the hush of this holy night, I plan to seek the gentle peace of the Lord ... right here, where I am ... jammies and all!

Praying that tomorrow will be filled with the true spirit of Christmas for you and your families!
Blessings, Donna Weaver

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased!”
- Luke 2:14

19 December 2011

What are you dreaming of?”

“May the God of hope fill you with 
with all joy and peace as you trust in Him”
- Romans 15:13

This weekend one of my grandkids wrote this message on Facebook, “Its my favorite season and I can’t even play in the snow.” They live in Chicago, and right now there is no snow. For some people a “white Christmas” means fun making snow angels, snowball fights, building forts, sledding and skiing. For me, thoughts of a white Christmas make me nostalgic!

It is said that when Irving Berlin wrote the song “White Christmas,” his original assignment was to write about each of the major holidays of the year. He found it hard to write about Christmas, so he wrote from his experiences of Christmastime in New York and Los Angeles. I grew up looking forward to watching the movie every year, and consider it a timeless classic. Several years and lots of Christmas movies later, it is still one of my favorites.

Many of the themes of Christmas are reflected in the movie, including celebrations with family and friends, Christmas trees and holiday decorations. There are only a few more days until Christmas and this week will be filled with last minute decorating, shopping, gift-wrapping, and lots of festivities. As we continue to prepare our hearts for Christmas, the peace of the season can be overshadowed not only by the busy-ness of our preparation, but also by our memories.

It’s fun to watch movies depicting the “perfect holiday,” but we need to be careful when comparing those fictional lives to our own. As much as we may want to live up to the images of people enjoying “magical moments,” is it a reality?

For many people, holidays are extremely difficult – even our most cherished memories can fill us with overwhelming feelings of sadness or loss. Life happens ... divorce, deployment, relocation, and death are just a few of the many stressors that become even larger during this time of festive gatherings. A memory of a wonderful family get-together can quickly change in to the reality of being separated. The joy of receiving a Christmas card from a family member might bring up feelings of the loss of a loved one. A favorite treasured ornament hung on the tree, may also be a sad reminder of happier days.

Even though the movie “White Christmas” doesn’t have a religious theme, when the Inn in Vermont is in jeopardy of having to close its’ doors, a caring community (the soldiers), are called to come together, to remember the time they spent together and to help the General. As Christians, that is what we are called to do... to offer a helping hand, to love one another (John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, 1 Peter 3:8).

Hearts are healed when those who are going through grief are remembered in our thoughts and prayers. Take a moment this week to reach out to those who are moving through loneliness, life-altering changes, loss, or grief. Whether you are dreaming of a white Christmas, a peace-filled day, or a festive time with family and friends, may we all remember and honor those who are no longer with us, and cherish those who are.

In this most magical of seasons, may you find peace, love and much happiness.
Blessings, Donna Weaver

“God is so big He can cover the whole world with His love,
and so small He can curl up inside your heart.”
- June Masters Bacher

16 December 2011

From Greed to Grace ... ‘tis the Season


“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” - Hebrews 13:16

I need to make a confession. My name is Donna Weaver and I am a Christmas movie junkie. I think I’ve already watched some of my favorites at least 3 times. And of course I’ve probably watched at least half a dozen (or more) variations of “The Christmas Carol.” The other night as I was watching yet another version of the classic movie, I realized how it actually reflects many of the principles found in Luke 19:1-10. A classic redemption story.

Just for fun, let’s do a little comparison of Zacchaeus and Scrooge.

Zacchaeus: Unpopular, chief tax collector who made himself rich at the expense of other Jews.
Scrooge: Selfish, miserly banker who became wealthy at the expense of others.

Zacchaeus: Jesus loved him.
Scrooge: The Crachits loved him.

Zacchaeus: After he met Jesus, he had a change of heart and realized that he needed to make amends.
Scrooge: After meeting the three ghosts, he realized that he needed to change his life.

Zacchaeus: Gave half of his possessions to the poor, and said he would pay anyone he cheated four times the amount.
Scrooge: Made up for his wrong doings. He became joyful and generously gave to others.

Most of us probably don’t consider ourselves to be like Scrooge or Zacchaeus. I don’t think of myself as a “greedy person.” However, there are many ways that greed can bury itself in our soul and rear its ugly head from time to time. Characteristics such as self-indulgence and stinginess are not the only signs of greed. What about envy, gluttony, longing, hoarding, or resentment?

Consider: Do I hoard my time or resources that could be used to help others? Am I always discontent, needing the best of everything? Is my time spent on wishing for what I don’t have, rather than being thankful and enjoying what I do have?

There are many similarities between the Story of the Tax Collector and The Christmas Carol – but there is one huge difference. Even though both of the main characters learned to appreciate the value of love and compassion over cold, selfish greed ... one (Zacchaeus) was taught by being loved by Jesus, and the other (Scrooge) was frightened in to repentance by three scary ghosts.

Our God is a loving God  and He constantly reveals His grace to us, giving us second chances. I asked myself, “When that happens, do I breathe a sigh of relief, or do I learn from the experience and change my ways?”

As I prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, I want my heart to be overflowing with peace, love, and joy! I don’t know about you, but I think this is a perfect season to examine our hearts and see what is really hiding deep within.

It’s Friday, Let’s Sparkle ... action required ...
God has lavished us with His grace. As Christmas Day approaches, let’s share the blessings and grace that He has bestowed upon us, with those less fortunate. Search your heart ... can you give a little of your time, donate some food, spare a little change, do a kind deed?

Remember, your “spark” might just be the light that keeps someone else’s candle burning!

Have a blessed weekend -
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have
into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
- Melody Beattie, Author

12 December 2011

The Main Character is _ _ _ _ _ ?

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they
shall call
His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
- Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)

Every year I receive more junk email during the Christmas season than any other time of the year. I usually end up going through my inbox and just hitting the delete key, but occasionally there is one email with a catchy title that peaks my interest. This year was no exception. The subject line said, “Why Jesus is better than Santa Claus.”

As I read through the comparison, I began to wonder how people would answer the following question ... Who is the main character in your Christmas celebration?

Take one popular, non-biblical saint, add the influences of many festivals, observances, and traditions, along with fascinating legends, a little mystery, some magical stories, and Saint Nicholas becomes Santa Claus. This is a very simplified description of the process that has spanned many centuries, countries and cultures, but the bottom line is - Santa Claus has come to town.

Santa’s merits include the fact that he is loveable and a bit magical. He is a generous gift giver, who is full of joy. He cares for children and gives them a wonderful sense of hope and anticipation. Families even watch movies together, based on his character. He can be seen everywhere. If he was a real person, you could say that Santa has some positive Christian qualities, but he is a fictitious character.

On the other hand, Jesus is the Son of God, and is beyond anything we can imagine.

He knows all about us – not just whether we’ve been naughty or nice, but also our inner-most thoughts and desires. Jesus also gives us gifts, especially the greatest gift of all ... salvation! And His gift is given to all who believe in Him, not just to those who “deserve” it. Best of all, Jesus is not just a character that is with us for a season ... He is real and He is with us always!

Unfortunately, many people find Santa much more appealing than Jesus.

Because of his popularity, Santa’s negative qualities make up quite a list, too. Santa is worshipped by the retailers, who already try to do what they can to take Christ out of Christmas. Grown-ups and children alike begin to think of Santa as a source for their greatest wishes and wants. They believe the season is all about how much they will be receiving, and this is the exact opposite of what scripture tells us. Christmas is all about God’s gift to us (John 3:16).

Santa offers us a “ho-ho-ho,” but Jesus offers us peace, love, joy and hope!

One of my favorite Christmas figurines is the statue of Santa kneeling next to the manager. There is also a poem I love, entitled Santa’s Prayer on Christmas Eve, by Warren D. Jennings. The poem speaks about Santa’s “to-do” list, but the writer puts everything in to perspective in the last two verses ...

All this is to honor the birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.

So to all of my friends, least Your glory I rob,
Please Lord, remind them who gave me this job.

Both the statue and poem give us a glimpse in to the real meaning of Christmas. Yes, Santa comes once a year, but without Jesus we would have no reason to celebrate. As Christians, we don’t need to worry about a jolly old elf, but we do need to make sure that Jesus remains our real “Reason for the Season.”

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let us “shine” the light of Christ for all to see.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

Click here to read the entire poem Santa's Prayer on Christmas Eve: http://washingtonmo.com/christmas/xmaseve.htm

09 December 2011

Getting Ready for the Christ Child

“Light shines on the godly,
and joy on those whose hearts are right.”
- Psalm 97:11 (NLT)

I read the following question in a Christmas devotion just this week, “Has preparing for whatever you're doing with family and friends on Christmas, replaced time spent getting ready for the Christ child?”

It sure got me to thinking!

“How many more days?   Can’t this line move any faster?   Are we almost there yet?”

Rush ... rush ... rush...

Today everyone is in a hurry ... “immediately” is a term used way too often. With such long “to-do” lists, places to go and things to get done, the more we hurry - the quicker Advent is swallowed up.

What’s the worst that could happen if we just slow down for a few minutes, and enjoy some Christmas Peace?

I find my “Christmas Peace” at night with the lights dim, a candle burning, and Christmas music playing softly in the background.

I always love the sounds of the season! It could be listening to Handel’s Messiah (and reminiscing about Christmas’ past), being in the moment of Christmas present and singing along with a beautiful contemporary Christmas song such as Emmanuel by Laura Story , or taking in each perfect detail about the very first Christmas (while listening to O’Holy Night).

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10).

If we don’t find time to seek a bit of quiet each day, and listen to God in the peacefulness of the Christmas season, how can we possibly think we will find Him in the busy-ness and excitement of Christmas morning?

It’s Friday, Let’s “Sparkle” ... action required ... Is your church having a Christmas cantata, a special children’s program, or some other musical event? Why not invite some neighbors, co-workers, or friends to join you in experiencing the sights, sounds, and peace of this Christmas season.
Praying that you take time today to find some Christmas Peace!
Chillin’ in His Grace, Donna Weaver

"Remembrance, like a candle, burns brightest at Christmastime."
- Charles Dickens

Listen to Emmanuel by Laura Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyJeqeTG1PU

05 December 2011

Fall on your Knees

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I brin
g you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord...” - Luke 2:10-11

I started writing this blog on Saturday, after what I consider to be a very LONG week. You see, 2011 has been a year filled with many changes in my life, and this past week was no exception.  I was planning to put a few finishing touches on my post Sunday after church, but as I listened to the sermon God directed the path of my words and my post took a different turn than I had originally planned. God does that to me a lot - He will use a message, a scripture verse, a song on the radio, or the words of a friend to help me understand exactly what I am going through and what I should be writing about.

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “O Holy Night.” A line in the song says - “Fall on your knees.” Have you ever fallen on your knees before the Lord? I have to admit that this week I was stricken to the point where I did just that! Out of fear and physical exhaustion, I fell to my knees ... and today after listening to the sermon, I realize it was a sign of my total submission and absolute dependence on Him.

Scripture reassures us over and over again that we should not be afraid, or anxious – that we should cast all our worries on the Lord (Luke 2:10, Isaiah 41:13, Matthew 6:34, Philippians 4:7). But when we forget or begin to doubt those words, and try to rely on our own power, things fall apart very quickly. My only hope was to turn EVERYTHING over to the Lord ... and I did just that!

Recently I lost my job, and for financial reasons, this week I had to move out of my apartment. The Pastor today said that our attitude can become so steeped in what we think we deserve that we stand tall with “ungrateful entitlement.” Thus, our attitude turns away from what God’s word tells us. Other times we take for granted the gifts (blessings) that God has given to us and forget the fact that He does not “owe” us anything, or has not “promised” us everything that we want. Again, our outlook takes a negative stance.

This is the season for celebrating the birth of Christ. In doing so, we also remember the visit from the Magi. These men were distinguished foreigners (Wise Men, Kings, and Astrologers), yet came from far away, bowed down before the Christ child and worshipped Him. Today I was reminded that my posture, words, and actions need to reflect the same reverence and respect. Just the thought alone of baby Jesus lying in the manger should always drive me to my knees.

This week I was “blessed” to start an amazing new job, and this past weekend I have been “blessed” to find a new place to live. In the words of Psalm 120:1, “I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.” I did not receive His blessings because I earned, deserved, or was entitled to anything, but only because of His goodness, grace, and mercy.

So, tonight I once again fall to my knees. This time it is with a sense of profound gratitude ... because the same Christ child that was worshipped by the Magi, that died for the sins of the world, continues to watch over me and bless me. Apart from Him, I have nothing - but because God so loved the world and sent His Son, the Christ Child, I am humbly grateful for all that I have!

Here is a link to an amazing video of the nativity, accompanied by Josh Groban singing O Holy Night ... enjoy!


May you fall on your knees and worship Christ, as you continue to prepare for the celebration of His birth.   Have a blessed week and be sure to check out my Friday blog - "Getting Ready for the Christ Child."

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver